Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Blogging on the Spot
Do you ever feel that there was something just not quite right about the day just gone? Is it just because I live in Bangladesh? Am I getting too impatient with life?
Sunday is a working day here in Dhaka so we are at school. The actual school day itself was not worthy of special mention. It started with a double lesson of the Horizon Project Grade 11 class. We updated each other on developments in communication and project organisation. Big news from me was the addition of Karl Fisch as our keynote speaker coming up later this week. Also news of Judy O'Connell as the expert review person for social networking and not to mention the addition of George Siemens as an advisor to the project as well. My students knew of Karl as we had watched his 2020 Vision video in class not so long ago. In fact we had this great idea to create a Bangladesh version...I even thought of a name, "2022 E-Liberation", based on the fact that the year 2022 will be the 50 year anniversary of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan. Coupling this with an eLearning idea could be very interesting. Needless to say we have not had time to do this...maybe before the end of the year as I think a more international perspective would be a contrast to Karl's excellent work.
I spent time working on our technology budget for next year and in preparation for an SMT meeting about this tomorrow. I'm trying to think of creative ways to say "You've got to be joking', when our CEO cans the amount I think should be spent. Not that he doesn't agree with me deep down, but he has to balance the budget somehow. We need another 50 PC's (most to replace 5-6 year old machines), we need at least another 12 digital projectors. We are moving into SmartBoards as a trial next year (2 have been approved already). More than anything we need a turn around in teacher attitude and a commitment to using our mobile and ubiquitous tools (yes, we have a laptop and a handheld program) for connecting, communicating and creating. How do you buy that?
The afternoon class was spent supervising a Grade 12 mock exam for ITGS. A one-hour paper on their case study on podcasting. A fun topic as we have not only studied podcasting but created a podcast series to put on the ITGS wiki. I thought the students did a reasonable job of this series, but it is lacking in depth somewhat, as I expect their paper answers to be when I feel like marking them this week ;-). While the students were writing the paper I was putting the finishing touches to my presentation for the whole staff meeting after school. Myself and a colleague, Catherine DeLevay, presented at international conferences over the Easter break. Catherine on Information Literacy in the PYP program at the IB Asia Pacific Teachers' Convention in Singapore, and myself at the ECIS IT conference in Düsseldorf on Web 2.0 and wikis and podcasting. We had been granted 20 minutes each at today's meeting, after the CEO speaks about the ACER testing. Needless to say his talk went 15 minutes overtime but included positive feedback about the academic standing of our students. Catherine did a fantastic job updating us on the evolution of information literacy and the objectives of the IBO with literacy and emphasis on participatory writing, the use of commenting and interacting (sounds like blogging!). She also has some great information on her wiki 'Dimensions of Literacy'.
By now however my presentation time had been reduced to 10 minutes (By 4.30 in the afternoon, even the most dedicated teachers have started to look longingly at the door) and as I went to hook up the laptop it crashed! OK, grab the microphone, smile nicely at my wonderful IT support and try to talk while it reboots. My mission was to share global online learning and the Flat Classroom Project with my immediate colleagues and peers. This was the first and only chance I was going to get to do this. I talked about how connectivity is changing the world and how through our online presence Vicki Davis and I discovered our mutual interest in pushing the limits and challenging the status quo in the pursuit of finding a better way to engage adolescents. Finally, back online (well not really as suprisingly the meeting was being held in a non-Internet connected venue!) I started the ubiquitous PowerPoint and took off. I whizzed through the objectives and framework, played the review video, talked about the Three C's (Connect, Communicate and Create), played a student example video from the Flat Classroom Project created by Cannelle and Casey and moved at a rapid speed into relating our latest venture, the Horizon Project. Excellent response from the crowd to the review video but ran out of time for anything more than a cursory reference to the Horizon....maybe next time. In 15 minutes maybe I had managed to spark interest, maybe conversations will start tomorrow, maybe they will continue.
I felt pleased to have exposed myself to my closest peers but anxious that I had not fully explained how important this type of project is. Not just because of the international recognition, but because it really does have the potential to change the way we view the world of education as educators. Here is my slideshow for posterity, called "It's About Connectivity and Learning, Not the Technology".
Coming home after the meeting the heavens opened, down came one of the first heavy rains for the season. As expected, no Internet working in the flat. After inquiring with the ISP I was told it would be about 1 hour before it was fixed. Three hours later, I rang them again. The story this time, amidst many apologies, was that they had noone in the office who was willing to climb the 20 foot pole and fix the radio transmitter as the storm was too bad and it was dark! Well! What happened to good old fashioned work ethic and customer service? I was aghast, no Internet? The pile of marking that I should probably be doing anyway peeked out from my bag....oh OK....but first I think I will blog my day in Notepad and upload it tomorrow...'blogging on the spot' my better half called it as I was pouring out the words but they were going nowhere! What a great analogy!
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